Bob Greene's Better Body Boot Camp
Midmorning sun streams through oversize windows in Bacara's gym, and an ocean breeze drifts through open French doors. Yolanda, Amy, and Kerri are in their exercise gear, ready to learn Bob's one-hour workout plan. He begins with cardio: On treadmills, they choose the manual setting and then increase the machine's speed and grade until they're working at a "challenging" level. "On a scale of 0 to 10, where 5 is a leisurely walk and 10 an all-out sprint, go for 7 or 8," he says. "Anything over 8 isn't sustainable for very long. You should still be able to carry on a conversation, though you'll need to occasionally gulp for air."
Between breaths, Amy tells Bob she has only 20 minutes a day to exercise, and is sometimes so drained after work that she doesn't feel up to doing anything at all. He tells her to make time by getting up earlier: "If you're up early already, it's not that hard to wake up 45 minutes sooner." The activity will raise her metabolism for the rest of the day, and people who work out in the morning tend to stick with their exercise plans better than those who work out in the evening. For Amy, this will mean resetting her alarm for 5:15—not an appealing idea. But Bob promises she'll feel better in the long run.
After 15 minutes on the treadmill, the women move to elliptical machines for another 15 minutes. Bob explains that variety in a cardio workout allows more muscles to be trained. Again, the women increase the resistance setting to their personal 8. Bob encourages Kerri to push herself harder than the others. "Getting past a plateau requires consistently increasing the intensity of your exercise," he says. He also wants Kerri to do longer sessions—45 minutes of cardio rather than 30, five days a week.
Next up: strength training. From a long rack of dumbbells, the women choose weights. Bob leads them through a series of moves, from biceps curls to squats. For each move, they do two or three sets of eight to ten repetitions. "If you can easily complete ten reps on your third set, your weight isn't heavy enough," Bob says.
Yolanda struggles with the shoulder presses and lateral arm raises, and Bob pushes her to work to her maximum ability. "If you're not feeling the burn, it won't trigger changes," he explains. But he warns her not to overdo it. While a little discomfort is acceptable, pain is not.
Bob wants the women to add these exercises to their cardio sessions three times a week on nonconsecutive days. They will practice their workouts during their time here so they're ready to do them on their own back home. For now, though, what's on everyone's mind is lunch.
The gym leads out to a courtyard with a swimming pool bordered by citrus trees and blooming bougainvillea hedges. Hummingbirds hover over the pink flowers, and occasionally over the flagstone terrace where the women sit down to eat. Today's meal includes crab salad seasoned with celery, lemon juice, and mustard powder, sprinkled with paprika, and served on flatbread; coleslaw with a splash of red wine vinegar; and fruit cups drizzled with a blend of fresh mint, orange juice, and honey. Calorie count: about 425. (Every recipe on today's menu comes from Bob's Best Life Diet Cookbook.)
The afternoon's goal is to help the women incorporate delicious, healthy food like this into their daily diet. Their guide is Janis, a nutritionist and weight loss counselor from Washington, D.C. She bases her prescriptions on a Mediterranean-style diet that calls for whole grains, lean protein (seafood, poultry, tofu, and the occasional beef tenderloin or lamb loin), and six to ten daily servings of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Although it's not a low-fat diet, the main sources of fat—including olive oil, nuts, avocados—are the good, heart-preserving kind (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated).
Prior to boot camp, Yolanda, Amy, and Kerri were asked to keep food diaries, which Janis has used to devise some dietary suggestions. Yolanda, Janis announces, isn't eating nearly enough fruits and veggies. Yolanda looks stricken at the thought of consuming six servings a day. But it turns out that she was imagining platefuls, and when Janis shows her a rubber model of an actual serving size—five broccoli florets—she smiles. "That's all?"
Amy needs to boost her calcium intake. She's getting only 30 percent of the recommended 1,000 milligrams a day. While Amy doesn't care for milk on its own, she likes it in lattes—and that helps, Janis says. One cup of nonfat milk contains nearly one-third of those 1,000 milligrams. Janis also suggests a calcium-loaded sandwich spread that's easy to whip up: 1½ teaspoons of olive oil, a teaspoon of chopped fresh thyme, and ½ cup fat-free ricotta cheese.
When Janis turns to Kerri, she expresses mixed feelings about Kerri's "3 o'clock chocolate-ing hour." A little dark chocolate is fine because it contains antioxidants—but it's not good to have any sweet at the same time every day. "You start expecting that 3 o'clock fix like an addict," Janis says. "Move your treats around."